Immigrant Advocates and Elected Officials Rally for Early Childhood Funding in NYC Budget

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New York—Today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), Campaign for Children, elected officials, member organizations, allies, and immigrant New Yorkers rallied and held a press conference in City Hall Park. 

Nearly a third of all parents of children under five years old in New York City are Limited English Proficient (LEP). Immigrant parents want to enroll their kids in early education programs that will get them on the right path for school, but significant barriers exist for many of these families. That is why New York City must invest $4 million in a city-wide expansion of the Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education (LIFE) Project, a proven early childhood outreach, application and enrollment support program specifically designed to meet the needs of LEP and digitally disconnected families, to address these barriers. The City must also fund $20 million in the successful Promise NYC program so undocumented families continue to have access to quality childcare. The NYC FY24 budget must also bolster the overall early childhood system to achieve pay equity for the early childhood workforce, on-site and year-round enrollment, protection of current 3-K seats, restoration of the 3-K expansion timeline, and expanded access to infant and toddler care and year-round programs. 

“The City budget must meet the needs of undocumented children and their families who rely on these programs to provide safe, enriching care for their children while their families work. By delegating $20 million for the Promise NYC program, the Mayor and City Council can ensure that young children, regardless of status, will have the opportunity for care, especially those from families seeking asylum who are building new lives as New Yorkers. To fulfill the gold star promise of 3-K for all, every child should have an early childhood seat available in their neighborhood with proper outreach, on time payments to providers, and a living wage for care workers,” said Comptroller Brad Lander.

"Access to quality early childhood education is not just an investment in our children; it is an investment in the future of our city,” said Councilmember Rita Joseph, Education Committee Chair, District 40. “By ensuring that all New Yorkers have access and equal opportunity to early learning, we will pave the way for a stronger, more equitable society that thrives on the foundation of knowledge, compassion, and endless possibilities."

“From Promise NYC to Pre-K seats for our immigrant families, advocates have fought for years to create vital problems for our immigrant neighbors. But despite years of advocacy, these problems lack the funding to reach and fully empower immigrant families,” said Councilmember Shahana Hanif, Immigration Committee Chair, District 39. “Ensuring equitable, full investments in these crucial programs ensure the safety and dignity of thousands of immigrant families in our City. Childcare investments are essential to gender justice, and I’m proud to fight for them alongside Council Member Caban, Comptroller Lander, as well as dozens of immigration and early childhood advocates.”

“Early childhood education pays for itself over the long haul, and it’s better for children and families, too,” said Councilmember Gale A. Brewer, District 6. “The city has to do better outreach to fill Pre-K and 3-K slots and pay providers on time to build the pipeline we need so we feed the K–12 schools students who are better readers, have better math and social skills, and can graduate on time. It’s a common-sense—and compassionate—investment in our city’s future.” 

"During FY23, the successful roll out of Promise NYC ensured that all children and families were provided the quality care and education that they deserve,” said Councilmember Tiffany Cabán, District 22. As we look ahead to FY24, the city must not only maintain but expand funding for critical early childhood education and care vouchers for children. Today we call on the Mayor’s administration to redouble its efforts to support the continued arrival of families as they seek asylum."

"As a mother of four, building a brighter future for all New Yorkers begins with nurturing and investing in our youth. Our City Council will continue advocating for essential funding and resources that create an early childhood education system that leaves no child behind and forges a path forward where every family flourishes. By increasing funding for vital programs, New York City can set a precedent across the nation that Universal Childcare can be realized and that parents will no longer have to choose between their job and childcare,” said Councilmember Julie Menin, District 5. 

“As we head into the final weeks of the NYC budget, it is critical that we bolster and expand our early childhood system rather than diminish it. By doubling funding for Promise NYC and investing $4M in the LIFE project, as well as make common sense changes to increase access to the system, we can create a welcoming early childhood system that supports all our youngest New Yorkers,” said Councilmember Chi Ossé, District 36.

“Organizations like the New York Immigration Coalition are doing the important work of raising awareness and connecting communities to programs like 3K and childcare. Their community efforts identify gaps in access and outreach, and their advocacy has improved worker conditions. I’m proud to support NYIC’s LIFE Project and join in the call for salary parity for early childhood educators, better processes for outreach and enrollment, and a path to preserve 3-K and create more care options for working families, said Councilmember Carlina Rivera, District 2.

“New York City is facing a major affordability crisis, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the cost of childcare. By funding the LIFE Project, Promise NYC, and making reasonable investments in the early childhood system, New York can give more children the foundation they need for success and more families the relief they deserve,” said Liza Schwartzwald, Senior Manager of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment, New York Immigration Coalition. “Promise NYC and the City’s public 3-K/Pre-K system have allowed unprecedented access to early childhood services for immigrant children, but without the proper funding for outreach and support, many families will never know that these programs exist and will remain shut out. We can’t let that happen.”

“High-quality early childhood education can be a game changer for children’s education and must be available to the children who need it most,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director, Advocates for Children of New York. “Unfortunately, the City has been falling short, leaving more than 10,000 preschoolers with disabilities without their mandated services and proposing to eliminate funding to provide child care to children who are undocumented, among other challenges. This year’s budget must restore funding for Promise NYC and make the investments necessary to ensure every preschooler with a disability gets the services they need and have a legal right to receive.” 

"As a working parent, I know first hand the importance of child care access. Last year NYC invested in making child care assistance available to families whose immigration status was a barrier. This year the city must do the same and invest more funding so that more families have access. That is a smart investment that pays dividends in so many ways, the social and emotional development of children, school readiness, and economic recovery and success,” said Smitha Milich, NYC Campaign Coordinator, Alliance for Quality Education.

“A high-quality early childhood education can have a tremendous impact in a child’s lifelong educational outcomes, particularly for children from under-resourced communities,” said Phoebe C. Boyer, President and CEO, Children’s Aid. “Children’s Aid calls for a fully functioning early childhood education system from 0 to 5 years old. The city’s final budget must include funding that creates more 0 to 5 options for working families, improved outreach and enrollment, and salary parity for early childhood educators.”

“New York City’s Early Care and Education system functions as a vital resource for children and families, promoting not only young child development and school readiness, but also offering critical support to working parents,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director, Citizens' Committee for Children. “Sadly, our early care and education system is in crisis, failing to meet the needs of both families and providers. City leaders must consider the concerns of community-based providers and parents and work to restore funding for 3-K, convert open seats to meet demand for extended-day and full-year care, ensure access to care for immigrant households, and adequately pay community-based providers. We thank the City Council for their leadership championing solutions to these challenges and we hope that they continue to work with Mayor Adams to build a more sustainable path to universal early care and education in New York City." 

"High-quality, accessible early childhood education establishes a solid foundation for the newest generation of students to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. It is imperative that initiatives to support early childhood education are funded,” said Vanessa Leung and Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Directors, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. "It is important that outreach to families must be language accessible and culturally responsive so that these initiatives are for all New Yorkers. We call on the Adams Administration to ensure that a final budget includes support for the Promise NYC program, salary parity for early childhood educators, better processes for outreach and enrollment, and a path to preserve 3-K and create more care options for working families."

“At a time when New York City's families are desperate for child care, the City's FY 2024 Budget should take steps to increase access to high-quality early care and education. However, the Executive Budget moves in the wrong direction and makes cuts that will negatively impact children and families," said Tara N. Gardner, Executive Director, Day Care Council of New York. "The City must ensure that child care providers are paid on time, restore Promise NYC, remove barriers to enrollment, and achieve salary parity for the early childhood education workforce."

"New York City's moms and families are counting on lawmakers to prioritize solutions to the child care crisis in this year's budget," said Diana Limongi, Campaign Director for Early Learning, MomsRising. "We need a budget that helps ensure all families, regardless of immigration status, can find and afford quality child care. New York is a city of immigrants, and immigrants power our economy. And all kids, no matter where they were born, deserve a strong start to their education. Investing in undocumented families and children is an investment in our city's future."

"NMIC fully supports the request by ACS for an additional $20 million dollars to support Promise NYC,” said Maria Lizardo, Executive Director, NMIC. “This critical program for families who do not qualify for affordable and reliable federally subsidized child care has already had a life altering impact on hundreds of families in Manhattan, the Bronx, and throughout the City. It has provided stability for parents and caregivers to seek employment and education opportunities while their children are cared for by a reliable provider. Without this additional funding, hundreds of children will be left without a place to go, and the families who relied on Promise NYC will face difficult choices that will cost the City even more. Continued access to Promise NYC services is necessary to ensure these families are not further destabilized while also expanding these crucial benefits to those in our community who need it the most."

“For over a century, settlement houses have provided high quality early childhood education programming in New York City,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses. “The last few years have underscored the need for bold action to support their programs and the families they serve. Now is the time to support NYC's families with options that match their preferences, work hours, budgets, and neighborhoods. This support must be extended to all of our children, regardless of immigration status. Finally, the City must support the early childhood education workforce and providers through every avenue possible, most crucially through salary parity for the early childhood education workforce. We urge the Mayor and City Council to invest in early childhood education programs and ensure that the system is stable and strong for years to come.”